Schools, pools and other jewels: Council’s four-year funding priorities set

KEY FOCUS: Getting more schools built in Orange will be a priority for Orange City COunil in the next four years. Photo: FILE PHOTO
KEY FOCUS: Getting more schools built in Orange will be a priority for Orange City COunil in the next four years. Photo: FILE PHOTO

AN economic strategy has called for extra schools, aged-care facilities, rail lines and even another heated pool to ensure the region remains prosperous into the future.

Orange City Council has adopted the Orange Blayney Cabonne Economic Development Strategy, which has identified health, education, mining, agriculture and tourism as its key priorities moving forward.

The report recommended building the aged-care sector, including more retirement villages and gated communities, because the industry was recession-proof and did not rely on the wider economy to boom.

Infrastructure priorities included an indoor heated pool in Cabonne for hydrotherapy and buildings to house the future Murray Darling health network, a palliative care hospice and domestic violence centre. 

With private schools reporting long waiting lists, the strategy submitted more primary and secondary schools were needed in Orange to support the NSW Department of Primary Industries and keep it in the region.

Orange deputy mayor Joanne McRae said Orange Anglican Grammar School had been the only addition in the past 15 years. 

“We do need to look at our growing population and for the five to 16-year-olds, where they’re going in 15 years’ time and how we can provide training catering to the needs Orange will have,” she said.

With Regis Resources looking to set up mining near Blayney, the strategy took lessons from Cadia Valley Operations, noting Regis could affect accommodation supply, with knock-on impacts on rental prices and motel room availability. 

It recommended protecting future mining areas, a renewable energy strategy for the mines and investigating opportunities to localise the supply chain.

With the Parkes Intermodal Freight Terminal on the way, the strategy recommended linking the region to the facility to benefit agriculture, as well as reopening the Blayney-to-Demondrille rail line to improve freight links to Canberra. 

More backpacker accommodation was also recommended to ensure a ready supply of harvest labour. 

Roads and rail services also factored heavily into boosting tourism by shortening travel times.

Several of the region’s planned major projects were prioritised, including mountain bike trails at Mount Canobolas, the conservatorium and planetarium, the Yugaway Local Aboriginal Land Council Hotel and Hospitality School, a cultural centre in Blayney and a library and community facility in Molong.

Cabonne Council spokesman Dale Jones said the State government-funded strategy had saved the council $50,000 it would have spent formulating its own, allowing the money to go to village enhancements and events.

“The more events we have, the more money they inject into the economy and that helps existing businesses grow,” he said.